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Drink the Tea: A Mystery Hardcover – March 2, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031260730X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312607302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,462,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kaufman, the winner of the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition, introduces an unusual PI, a former foster child, in his impressive debut. Too often in mystery fiction a character's difficult upbringing is tacked on, but Willis Gidney bears emotional scars from being abandoned that are both convincing and relevant to the story line. Jazz great Steps Jackson, a friend of the D.C. gumshoe, hires Gidney to locate his long-lost daughter. Gidney, who normally serves subpoenas, attracts the interest of a creepy private security firm and an ambitious right-wing politician. After a lead takes him to Colette Andrews, the wife of the former Virginia state attorney general, Colette turns up shot to death, and the police suspect Gidney of having pulled the trigger. While one coincidental development will raise eyebrows, Kaufman, a director and cameraman who twice won the Gordon Parks Award for cinematography, pulls off a taut, compelling tale of violence and corruption. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As a child, Willis Gidney was homeless on the streets of Washington, D.C. Not even knowing his own name, he entered the D.C. juvenile justice system named for the two beat cops who collared him. Juvie made him tough and street-smart. Now 35, he’s a struggling PI. A good friend asks Gidney to find a daughter who has been missing for 25 years. Dead bodies begin to pile up immediately, and Gidney is up to his neck in crooked congressmen, rapacious corporations, hired guns, cynical cops, and devious women. Kaufman, an award-winning cinematographer, has created a wonderful new series hero, a smart, tough, and cocky knight errant scarred by his past but resilient and resourceful. Gidney’s backstory almost takes precedence over the case, but Kaufman artfully weaves them together. His D.C., from the corridors of Capitol Hill to the horrors of juvenile-detention centers, is knowing and vividly evoked. His dialogue is clever and often quirky, and he surrounds Gidney with a host of strong characters. Fans of PI novels will love this one. --Thomas Gaughan

More About the Author

Thomas Kaufman is the author of DRINK THE TEA, which won the Private Eye Writers Competition for Best First Novel. STEAL THE SHOW is the sequel, also with Willis Gidney. In the works is the third book in the series, FACE THE MUSIC.

An Emmy Award-winning motion picture director/cameraman, Thomas shoots TV shows for National Geographic and Discovery channels about cops -- all kinds of cops, including the FBI, the DEA, and metro police all over the United states. For years he's been filming in high definition. Now he's writing in high definition.

Recently, Thomas was interviewed on NPR: http://bit.ly/cCCMPn

Since graduating from the University of Southern California with an MFA in Film Production, he has worked as a Director of Photography on documentary, commercial, and fiction films. In addition to working as director/cameraman for National Geographic and Discovery Channels, Mr Kaufman has also shot documentaries for British Broadcasting Corporation, WGBH, WNET, and for Academy Ward winners Charles Guggenheim, Barbara Koppel, and Mark Jonathan Harris.

You can see his film work here: www.thomaskaufman.com/dp

Mr Kaufman's current project is an independent documentary, INDIAN HILL. Here's the trailer which includes an interview with Pete Seeger: www.indianhillsummer.org

Mr Kaufman has twice won the Gordon Parks Award for Cinematography, and an Emmy for a documentary about deaf children, SEE WHAT I'M SAYING.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Osial on March 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I met the author at a bookstore signing and, being in the need of reading material of a new author, thought it would be a good book to enjoy. Boy was I wrong. It was a great book. The characters are flawed but believable and the plot has unexpected twists and turns that keep you interested without being taken on a Ludlum-type excursion. I wanted to read it in one sitting but instead I savored it like a nice Stan Getz solo. Buy it. Read it. You will enjoy it as well.
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Format: Hardcover
I'll read pretty much any crime novel about my hometown of Washington, D.C. -- heck I'll read just about any contemporary fiction about D.C. So, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up this debut, featuring a struggling D.C. private eye in his mid-30s. Willis Gidney grew up rough, in and out of foster homes and city-run orphanages, and he still bears the scars of those years. Now, he ekes out a living serving papers and spying on cheating husbands and wives. However, one evening, he sits down for a drink with his friend Steps Jackson, a famous jazz musician (Speaking of which, can we please have a moratorium on detectives and cops who are jazz aficionados? It seems like every third crime novel features a protagonist with a one in a million appreciation for rare jazz.), and is asked to do something a little more unusual -- track down his long-lost daughter.

The missing persons case embroils Gidney in all kinds of dangerous situations, from confronting strapped street hoodlums to the far more dangerous denizens of Congress, not to mention a murky Blackwateresqe private security firm. And of course, a love interest in introduced, who is able to help him with all things computer-related. I quite liked Gidney as a character, and I found his backstory pretty interesting, and the details about DC are right on the nail (parking features prominently). However, the story veers way off into a Grisham-like conspiracy involving powerful multinational corporations, crooked Congresspeople, explosions, and things of that ilk (which requires a large coincidence to help resolve). I prefer my crime stories to be at a smaller, more mundane scale (think Elmore Leonard, think George Pelecanos, etc), more on the streets and less in the corridors of power, and so the story didn't fully engage me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nancycobledamon on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Drink the Tea, the new P.I. novel by Thomas Kaufman is simply terrific. Kaufman's characters are complex and intriguing. His protagonist, Willis Gidrey ( whose story of how he got is name is emblematic of his life) is wounded, yet with a sense of honor, an intrepid wise guy, whose sharp humor gets him in and out of trouble. The characters draw you into the story, which keeps you reading. The scene is Washington, D.C., down some of the same mean streets that are featured in George Pelecanos' wonderful novels of the city.

I don't care to talk about the story-line--could give away too much. Read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Menick on April 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't know much about the P.I. genre, having read only Chandler, some Hammett and Poe's C. Auguste Dupin stories. But I found DRINK THE TEA a real delight, and saw Chandler's fingerprints all over it--and that can only be a good thing. The bruised but principled man going down those mean streets, the jocular takes on what he sees, the finely calibrated appraisals of the people he meets--it's all there. Kaufman maps present-day Washington as Chandler mapped the L.A. of his time: as a state of mind. What's new to the game is Kaufman's grasp of the politics of race in D.C. and not just the politics of politics. And there's a nice turn in protagonist Willis Gidney, a former foster child who sees a fair share of himself in D.C.'s down-and-outers. In that sense he's a bit like MAD MEN's Don Draper, the eternal outsider. Outsiders make great narrators, great points-of-view. Let's hear more from Gidney and Kaufman. No reason this shouldn't be a franchise.

The book is entertaining, it moves, and it builds. Well done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Hauser on April 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Down these mean streets a man must go," and I guess there are no meaner streets than Washington DC and the halls of Congress, where this book takes us.

I really enjoyed this action-packed story. It's a riff on the classic detective novel, and I mean riff, since it's got a jazz underscore. It's also highly satiric, takes a swipe at a few things which need taking a swipe at, but without being heavy-handed. I love the mix of sharp dialogue and plot. It's cute but not too cute. The juxtaposition of the main character's back story with his current circumstances is accomplished elegantly, a tough thing to do well. The result is a PI who isn't just a vehicle for the story, but a fully realized human being we'd like to see succeed. I'm hoping there are going to be more of these. Keep writing, Thomas Kaufman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Reynolds on April 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've found that English majors, authors, and earnest public library patrons tend not to read so-called genre fiction, unless they take a weird personal delight in the genre. Fiction's various 'B' categories tend to get repetitive to the point of boredom pretty quickly, enlivened only with zany peripheral characters, grisly sub-plots or an overall nihilism so spectacular it might draw a chuckle from Iggy Pop.

But then, gratefully, a newcomer arrives at the publisher's office with a finished stack of foolscap, and somehow finagles an audience. He's has never written a book before, but interviews well. If the publisher should deign to set down his whiskey sour at some point afterwards and actually read a page or two, they discover a pleasing grasp of story mechanics, not to mention modern-day shocks like syntax, grammar and other casualties of our Instant Era. With a bit of luck our tyro even has style, the likelihood of this increasing only if they are over fifty years of age.

Thomas Kaufman is just such a tyro. Already an accomplished cinema Director of Photography, a profession more reliant on numbers than words, he might be fulfilling a long held desire to say something besides, "I'd give it an f-5.6 with more backlight." And through his main character, the accidentally christened scam artist Willis Gidney, he gets a chance to say a great deal, and not badly either, about contemporary culture, politics, business, feral youth, and even print journalism. When asked if he reads the newspapers, Gidney replies, "Just the weather report and 'Zippy'..."

Aspiring lowbrow P.I.
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